Who Are The 24 Elders In The Book Of Revelation?

by Dr. Michael L. Williams · Print Print · Email Email

With all the geopolitical turmoil in the world many people have taken an increased interest in end-times prophecies. As Christians, we see many current events, not as something that is new and frightening, but as literal fulfillment of many signs that the Bible says would occur before Jesus returns. With these exciting times, many are asking questions about passages in the book of Revelation. One in particular is, who are the 24 elders in the book of Revelation? A short study of this passage and supporting passages will provide us the answer.

Who Are The 24 Elders In The Book Of Revelation

Where is the reference to the 24 elders located?

The reference to the 24 elders can be first found in Revelation 4:1-5 as follows:

After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne. And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald. And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God. (Revelation 4:1-5)

What is the context of the 24 elders mentioned in Revelation?

The book of Revelation was written by the Apostle John under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and direct revelation from Jesus Christ in a vision (Revelation 1:4-11). The entire book can be divided into three sections of time: the past, the present, and the future (Revelation 1:4) Like the book of Isaiah, it was written to God’s people to let them know God’s plan for them and those who would follow after them (Isaiah 42:9, Revelation 1:19). The first chapter describes the past; the second and third chapters describe the present (when written); and chapter four through the rest of the book describe the future.

What is the first clue about the identity of the 24 elders?

The beginning of Revelation 4 describes a transition from the age of the church on earth through the resurrection. John’s vision describes hearing a voice like a trumpet calling him up to heaven where he was immediately in the throne room of God. Surrounding the throne were 24 seats that were occupied by 24 elders clothed in white raiment (clothing) and wearing crowns of gold. This gives us the first clue as to the identity of the 24 elders, the raiment, and crowns. According to Revelation 3:5, 18; Revelation 11:15-16; and Revelation 19:8, the white raiment represents those who are declared righteous by God by grace through faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9). The crowns are given by God to believers for several reasons (1 Corinthians 9:25-27; Revelation 2:10; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:2-4; 2 Timothy 4:8; and 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20). This description of the 24 elders tells us that they were believers that had trusted Christ as their Savior.

What is the second clue about the identity of the 24 elders?

The second clue about the 24 elders is that there were 24. This is significant in that there were 12 tribes of Israel and 12 Apostles. The connection is seen in Revelation 4:3-4 in the stones worn by the one (God) sitting on the throne: jasper, sardine, and emerald. These were stones that were worn along with nine others in the High Priest’s breastplate (Exodus 28:15-21). However, the stones worn here and their reverse order of mention has great significance. Jasper is a clear stone that was representative of the tribe of Benjamin, the last born of Jacob. The name Benjamin means “The son of my power.” Sardine is a blood-red stone that was representative of the tribe of Reuben, the firstborn of Jacob. The name Reuben means “Behold the Son.” Finally, the emerald is a green stone that represents the tribe of Judah, of which Jesus was born into as a man. The name Judah means “praise.” These three represent Jesus as the first-born Lamb and Son of God (past – sardine), second coming of Christ in power (future – jasper), and eternal praise of Jesus Christ (eternity past to eternity future – emerald).

What is the final clue about the identity of the 24 elders?

Combined these stones also represent the message of the Old Testament prophets along with the New Testament Apostles who laid the foundations of the written Word of God (Luke 11:47-51; 1 Corinthians 3:9-14; Ephesians 2:14-22; Hebrews 6:1). No longer is there a division between the former Jew and gentile when they become one in Christ as the church (Ephesians 2:11-22; 1 Corinthians 10:32). As the church, these elders are not to be confused with being part of the earthly organizational local churches. Instead, these elders are part of the universal church, believers from all ages in the shed blood of Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, that one day, at the resurrection, will all be together in heaven.


The reference to the 24 elders in the book of Revelation can be first found in Revelation 4:1-5. There are three clues that the Bible gives about the identity of the elders. The first clue is found in the apparel worn by the elders. The second clue is found in the number of elders and their role in laying the foundations of the Old and New Testaments of Scripture as represented by priestly breastplate stones worn by God on the throne. The final clue is found in the message of the coming Christ written by the Old Testament prophets along with the New Testament Apostles who saw Christ. These clues, along with numerous other references, show us that the 24 elders are former Jews and Gentiles, Prophets and Apostles, who are in heaven as members of the universal church made up of all of humanity that has trusted Christ as their Savior.

Read more about Revelation here: Revelation Summary, Commentary and Key Verses

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, King James Version

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Melo June 21, 2018 at 1:44 am

Probably Elijah (the man never died), Moses (he too has a mysterious grave), Another man from the times of Adam the 1st man to never die (cant remember his name), I am thinking mostly all the guys with mysterious death or no deaths at all, as well as these prophets who saw these things like Isaiah and John himself and others.


Daniel June 29, 2018 at 12:19 am

Enoch – it must be


mathew simon July 20, 2018 at 6:15 pm

This is great, i was looking for the meaning of the 7 stars and angels and about candles but at last 24 elders. glory to our lord Jesus. stay blessed the translator.


Mad Hatter March 30, 2019 at 5:49 am

Matthew 19:28: Jesus said to them(Apostles), “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

This would account for 12 of the 24 thrones, mentioned in Rev 4, who are to judge the 12 Tribes of Israel(144,000). Some believe that the 144,000 is the same group as the 24 elders but the scriptures never mention 144,000 thrones and 144,000 people with 144,000 crowns on their heads. In fact the 144,000 group is standing in front of the 24 elders singing a song only THEY, the 144,000,can master.


Lutiaipuava agaiava April 14, 2019 at 5:02 pm

My husband told my children the 24 elders is the 12 apostle and 12 tribes of Israel.. I’m still searching for a right answer hope you can help me with the correct answer


Jack Wellman April 14, 2019 at 5:09 pm

Hello my friend. Some people believe these twenty-four elders represent Israel, but at the time of this vision, Israel as a whole nation had not yet been redeemed. The elders cannot represent tribulation saints for the same reason—not all had yet been converted at the time of John’s vision. The most likely option is that the elders represent the raptured Church which sings songs of redemption (Revelation 5:8-10). They wear the crowns of victory and have gone to the place prepared for them by their Redeemer (John 14:1-4), so the 24 elders represent the church…12 being a number of authority and may represent the Old Testament saints (12) and the New Testament saints (12). That is what most scholars believe.


Diane Aarhus Vlach April 10, 2020 at 2:01 am

I heard just last night, from an 85 year old evangelist, that theologians have told him it will probably be a rotation of saints, so that we all will get a chance to sit and worship with God and Jesus. Several theologians and pastors had that same answer. Other than that I don’t know.


Debra May 9, 2019 at 1:01 pm

How could it be the Apostles, was John seeing himself seated as an elder would he not have mentioned that?


Jack Wellman May 9, 2019 at 2:09 pm

Hello Debra. Jesus said the apostles will be pillars in the New Jerusalem and will sit and be judges of the nation, so it is possible, but John was not able to identify them.


Kimberly Craig February 15, 2020 at 10:35 pm

I honestly don’t believe John would have recognized himself because remember everyone receives a new glorified body. He was seeing these elders in their new glorified heavenly state!


Olaleye January 16, 2020 at 1:14 am

Only God has interpretation to anything above human thinking


Jack Wellman January 16, 2020 at 10:28 am

Yes, you are exactly right.


renson mutua April 12, 2020 at 7:10 pm

i have no idea


Samuel Nnamchi August 10, 2020 at 12:44 pm



SAJEEL M KHOKHAR February 5, 2021 at 3:25 am

I concluded that the twenty elders are given .
First twelve:
These are tribuales of Israel as written in
Exdous 28:15-21
Or priestly of courses.
1chronicles 24:1-19
Second twelve:
Twelve Apostles of the lamb .
As written in
Revelation 21:10-14


Jack Wellman February 5, 2021 at 10:51 am

Hello Sajeel. Revelation 4:4 declares, “Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads.” The book of Revelation nowhere specifically identifies who the twenty-four elders are. However, they are most likely representative of the Church. It is unlikely that they are angelic beings, as some suggest. The fact that they sit on thrones indicates that they reign with Christ. Nowhere in Scripture do angels ever rule or sit on thrones. The Church, however, is repeatedly said to rule and reign with Christ (Revelation 2:26-27, 5:10, 20:4; Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30), so the elders are not Israelite tribes. The gates are not the same as the elders. They are completely separate.

In addition, the Greek word translated here as “elders” is never used to refer to angels, only to men, particularly to men of a certain age who are mature and able to rule the Church. The word elder would be inappropriate to refer to angels, who do not age. Their mode of dress would also indicate these are men. While angels do appear in white, white garments are more commonly found on believers, symbolizing Christ’s righteousness imputed to us at salvation (Revelation 3:5,18; 19:8).

The golden crowns worn by the elders also indicate these are men, not angels. Crowns are never promised to angels, nor are angels ever seen wearing them. The word translated “crown” here refers to the victor’s crown, worn by those who have successfully competed and won the victory, as Christ promised (Revelation 2:10; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12).

Some people believe these twenty-four elders represent Israel, but at the time of this vision, Israel as a whole nation had not yet been redeemed. The elders cannot represent tribulation saints for the same reason—not all had yet been converted at the time of John’s vision. The most likely option is that the elders represent the raptured Church which sings songs of redemption (Revelation 5:8-10). They wear the crowns of victory and have gone to the place prepared for them by their Redeemer (John 14:1-4).


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